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Tuesday, July 16, 2024, 11:28 am

Tuesday, July 16, 2024, 11:28 am

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Bottom trawling needs to be phased out among Indian fishermen.

Bottom trawling needs to be phased out among Indian fishermen.
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The Sri Lanka Navy sailor died after resuming fishing off India’s eastern coast, including Palk Bay, following the annual 61-day prohibition. On June 25, the Sri Lankan Navy conducted an operation to intercept Indian poaching trawlers near Kankesanthurai. A trawler vessel was confiscated, and 10 fishermen were caught, including eight from Tamil Nadu and the remainder from Andhra Pradesh. Several Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu have died.

M.K. Stalin, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, requested S. Jaishankar, the External Affairs Minister, to release the vessel and its crew. Mr. Jaishankar responded to the Chief Minister on Thursday, stating that the Indian High Commission has requested the early release of 34 fishermen in judicial remand and six others serving sentences.

The two countries might restart negotiations to resolve their maritime boundary conflict, which was exacerbated by bilateral agreements in 1974 and 1976. Mr. Stalin reminded Mr. Jaishankar to convene the Joint Working Group, which had not met in over two years. The illegal crossing of the international maritime boundary line by Indian fishermen is linked to the maintenance of the marine ecosystem, which is crucial for livelihood prospects.

The Tamil Nadu fishermen need time to prepare for diversification into deep sea fishing, marine cage farming, seaweed cultivation and processing, and sea ranching before gradually replacing bottom trawlers. The Union and Tamil Nadu governments’ deep sea fishing project has proven to be a failure based on their experiences. After nearly seven years of implementation, just 61 deep-sea fishing vessels have been turned over to beneficiaries, with 19 more currently under construction.

The Union government may consider combining the initiative with an all-India scheme, where the unit cost of a deep sea fishing vessel is ₹40 lakh more, to increase response even at this stage. Under the Central-State project, a deep sea fishing vessel costs ₹80 lakh. New Delhi and Colombo can create new plans to support Northern Province fishermen. It is crucial for the two countries, representatives of the fishing community, and officials from Tamil Nadu and Northern Province to convene quickly to resolve the conflict.

ABHISHEK VERMA


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